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Links 16/2/2011: Distributions Abolish Canonical’s ‘Unity’, Chevron’s $9.5 Billion Fine

Posted in News Roundup at 1:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • So The Cynical Old Bastard Was Right

    And there are a lot of trolls out there. Trolls in internet parlance are people who pop up, and do nothing but attempt to destroy a message board. They are often rude, crude, bombastic, and rude. I’ve run into them several times (which is why I have comments tightened down). So has just about anyone else who’s ever written anything which isn’t complimentary to Microsoft. Seriously.

    I can write uncomplimentary articles about Google, Adobe, Oracle, IBM, etc. No Trolls. Write something uncomplimentary about Microsoft and it attracts trolls, just like a picnic attracts ants.

    The thing is that we know that Microsoft was working to torpedo anyone who didn’t like them. It’s in the documents released in discovery in the Comes anti-trust case. A copy of the Comes Documents can be found here.

  • Server

    • Open Source COBOL-IT Tools to be Distributed by Speedware

      IBM i shops that develop in COBOL may be interested in learning about COBOL-IT, a compiler and collection of modernization tools that is developed in France under an open source license. Last week, the Canadian application modernization company Speedware announced that it’s now distributing COBOL-IT to North American customers.

    • No Millennium bug (yet) for love-struck LSE

      This will no doubt come as a relief to the London exchange and market-participants alike, following November’s outage of Turquoise — under what at the time were billed by the exchange as “suspicious circumstances” — just a couple of weeks after its migration to MillenniumIT.

      With no signs of would-be saboteurs, the LSE’s main market has been trading on the platform without any major hiccups since 8.00 GMT. No St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in sight just yet then — although, as one broker noted, “I would give it a day or so. In the past, issues occurred after the initial launch.”

    • London Stock Exchange tackles closing auction system problem

      The London Stock Exchange has taken steps to resolve a system problem that occurred at 4.30pm yesterday (Tuesday), which saw a delay to the start of the closing auction and knocked out automatic trades during a 42 second period.

      The problem occurred a day after the high profile launch of its new matching engine on the main equities market, based on the SUSE Linux system from Novell.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Ballnux

    • Samsung officially announces the Galaxy S II

      As expected, Samsung kicked off Mobile World Congress by announcing the new Samsung Galaxy S II. Like any true successor, the Galaxy S II delivers on all the expectations set by the original and raises the bar to a whole new level. The Samsung Galaxy S II comes equipped with a 4.27-inch 800 x 480 Super AMOLED Plus display, a 1GHz Dual Core application processor (most likely the Samsung made Exynos processor), 8 megapixel camera with LED flash and capable of 1080p video recording, 2 megapixel front-facing-camera, and NFC capabilities all bundled into a package that’s only 8.49mm thick. Last we checked, that makes the Samsung Galaxy S II the thinnest smartphone on the planet.

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • R600 Gallium3D Driver Now Supports S3TC Library

        While there is not integrated support for S3 Texture Compression (S3TC) support fully integrated into the Mesa / Gallium3D code-base over patents covering the algorithm, there are Mesa drivers that support hooking into an external S3TC library. This external S3TC support requires setting a special variable in the build process and building the S3TC library (named libtxc_dxtn.so) after obtaining the code from an independent source. This move shifts the legal burden from the Mesa developers and onto the user.

        Support for using this external S3TC library on the ATI R600 Gallium3D “R600g” driver has been sought after by users for months as there are a number of games on Linux (and under Wine) that require this texture compression extension. The hooks have been in place for the classic Mesa R600 driver (and the ATI R300 drivers), but it wasn’t until yesterday that the hooks were in place for the R600g driver.

      • AMD Catalyst 11.2 Linux Driver Released

        AMD has just issued their Catalyst 11.2 Linux driver update. It’s now available from AMD.com but their release notes as usual are of little use, so here’s the Phoronix scoop on this month’s update.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • GNOME Desktop

  • Distributions

    • Green Linux

      I have recently been talking (at least tangentially) about intuition and computers, most notably in “Isolation Experimentation” and “Spaced Out”. As computer professionals we often base our thinking on how computers are and how they should work off an unconscious synthesis of the facts, and unfortunately, the opinions that we have. Often we even base prejudgment about the computer systems we work with on things that used to be true, but are not anymore. Sometimes it is guilt by association even: See ReiserFS for details.

    • 100% Free with Trisquel

      This is not the first time I have tried to become 100% Stallman-approved Free. I have tried running both Gobuntu and gNewsense, but none of those have been a succes. Gobuntu only made one release, and gNewsense is always very much behind with the packages, which is a no go for me because I need new toys all the time.

      Enter Trisquel. Trisquel is based on Ubuntu, like Gobuntu and gNewsense (before gNewsens changed to being based directly on Debian). And it just works! … Except for the wireless. But I knew this, as even though the driver itself is free, the firmware-blob required to make it work is not. A positive surprise was that 3d-acceleration worked, although I thought that the driver for my Intel GMA 950 had the same problem with firmware-blobbiness as the wireless. But hooray for Free Drivers!

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Starting with Mageia: download it!

        As explained in a previous blog post, this development release should not be used in production.

      • Mandriva & Mageia Release Their Alphas

        The Magiea team hopes to put out a stable release on the 1st of June while there will be another alpha release in mid-March before the betas commence in April and a release candidate in May. Find more in the Mageia release announcement.

    • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Ubuntu Global Jam: Call For Events!

          Never before has the Ubuntu Global Jam been so important! In this cycle we are shipping Unity as the new desktop interface, and we are going to be working hard together to ensure that as many Unity bugs are squeezed out as possible. This is a great chance to come along and help test Unity, report bugs, fix bugs, triage problems, write documentation, help advocate Ubuntu in your area, and otherwise make a real difference that will benefit others. Together we can make Ubuntu 11.04 the best Ubuntu release yet!

        • Ubuntu Developer Week

          On the 1st of March at 16:00 UTC, I will be giving a session at Ubuntu Developer Week on how to write a Compiz Plugin and get started with Compiz development in general. I am just finishing my draft of the lesson I will be giving, but we will be covering topics such as:

          * Setting up the development environment to write, build and test Compiz plugins
          * Basic plugin set-up and tear down – getting your plugin to build and load
          * Handling events
          * Drawing to the screen and Drawing to windows
          * Reading and using options

        • Fedora, openSUSE Give up on Unity

          Some bad news came across the wire today. In a bit of a coincidence, the contributors from both openSUSE and Fedora who were working on Unity announced on the same day they were giving it up. So, those wishing to test this new interface will have to fire up Ubuntu after all.

        • Banshee Amazon Store disabled in Ubuntu 11.04 by Canonical

          Faced with sharing 75% of revenues from Amazon with Canonical, the Banshee maintainers have opted to disable the Amazon store by default when Banshee ships in Ubuntu 11.04. Instead, the media player will ship with support for purchasing music through Ubuntu One’s service, and users will have to change the defaults to be able to support GNOME.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Nokia/MeeGo/Maemo

      • Android

        • Unigine Engine For Android Makes Its Debut

          Unigine Corp developers aren’t starting and ending with Android on the mobile front, but they are also going to be working on bringing their powerful and scalable engine to other mobile platforms too. Below is the Unigine mobile interactive game demo.

        • OpenSignalMaps crowd-sources mobile signals with Android app – 80,000 downloads and counting

          I’ve been wandering around Mobile World Congress and I managed to bump into a startup which – although unable to can’t afford the expensive stands here – actually has an app that stands out from the crowd by quite some way. You see, it’s obvious to people that getting a decent signal on your mobile is crucial. You’ll no doubt recall how the launch of the iPhone suddenly created a massive interest in the quality and reach of mobile phone networks across the planet. Imagine being able to work out which mobile carrier was best for you based on where you are, in real time? OpenSignalMaps does just that.

        • HTC ChaCha and Salsa outed as the fabled Facebook phones

          We’ve heard rumors and seen mockups, but it seems like the HTC Facebook phones are real, and do fall more in line with Facebook’s comment that the phones are simply “integrating [the Facebook APIs] in an interesting way”. PocketNow has pics of the phones, while the Seattle Times has more in-depth (though harder to believe) info on the phones.


          The second model is the Salsa, which is a more standard Android slate with a 3.4″ touchscreen.

        • Nokia’s Elop fears mobile duopoly, but it is already here

          Given the absence of Apple, this Mobile World Congress could almost be called the Android World Congress, such is the dominance of Google’s mobile OS.

        • Android To Make More Sense For Enterprises

          RIM’s Blackberry platform has traditionally been a favourite when it comes to mobile enterprise security and its management. Its Blackberry Enterprise Server offers encryption that is virtually impregnable–a fact repeatedly confirmed by Indian security agencies. However, in recent times the stronghold of Blackberry as the preferred business tool has been diminishing constantly. Firstly, because Cupertino-based Apple has through regular software updates, made iOS devices into a potent personal as well as a business communication tool.

        • Sony Ericsson LiveView Puts Android on Your Wrist, Is Awesome – Coming Soon to US and Canada [MWC] [Video]

          The Sony Ericsson LiveView is already available in several regions, but without a US release I had not seen the nifty little accessory in the flesh…or plastic, rather. When I stumbled upon it at Sony Ericsson’s booth at MWC I couldn’t pass up the chance to check it out. Good news was learned, too. The LiveView is a mere few weeks away from a US and Canadian release.

        • Nvidia Tegra Stark 100x faster than Tegra 2

          Just before Google CEO Erick Schmidt announced it, we learned from industry sources that the next phone OS update for…

    • Tablets

      • Meego For Netbooks

        On the bright side Meego does boot and run very fast, but the downside is that I’m faced with having to try to fix what should never have broke. In the end I decided to wipe the netbook and rebuild each partition. I now have Windows 7, Linux Mint Debian Edition (instead of Debian Squeeze) and Linux Mint 10 (for screencasting). I also have Meego for now.

      • An Update from Intel

        What an interesting weekend. I am sure you can imagine what my inbox has looked the last few days. I appreciate your patience as the team works very hard on the MeeGo Software Platform to move things forward.

        As you know, MeeGo has always been an open source platform with many supporters, Intel foremost among them. This support is consistent with our long track record in open source projects and platforms including MeeGo, Yocto embedded Linux, LessWatts, the Linux kernel, Linux graphics, Google Android, ChromeOS, KVM, and many others. At Intel, we work very hard to make sure the software our customers use and want to use, runs best on our hardware platforms.

      • HTC Flyer Is Official: 7-inch Aluminium Android Tablet With A Media Focus

        HTC will today unveil its new 7-inch tablet device, the HTC Flyer, the first tablet from HTC that will feature the company’s HTC Sense UI, a sleek alumninium body and pen interaction, encouraging users to write down notes instead of jabbing away at a screen.

        There had been rumours that the HTC Flyer wouldn’t ship with Google’s new Honeycomb operating system; that rumour has been substantiated, to a point, as it looks like HTC will be running a customised flavour of the Android 2.4 operating system that will allow them to integrate its HTC Sense, HTC Scribe and HTC Watch technologies.

Free Software/Open Source

  • The four capital mistakes of open source

    How do you develop a successful open source business that lasts? Of the more than 250,000 open source projects on SourceForge, few will be successful at that goal. But one way they might think about how to do it is by doing it in reverse: What should an open source project or business not do?

    The negative advice has existed since ancient times, from one religion to another. The Ten Commandments are for the most part written as what not to do. We can go for a short walk or drive around our neighborhood: road signs give us, in very short messages we can read while driving, negative advice. Ask Warren Buffett about finance. He’ll tell you “Rule #1 is ‘Don’t lose money,’ and Rule #2 is… ‘Don’t lose money’”.

    Open source can also be better understood through negative advice. The latter can be back-tested and endure the test of time. By following a positive framework (but without falling into platonicity), one can slightly increase the chances of success. But by ignoring a negative one, you will most certainly fail.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • What’s up with SUMO – Feb. 14

        SUMO 2.5 going out tomorrow. It includes a new look for the support forum which you can see right now on support.allizom.org. Also if you go there with a mobile browser you can see some of the in-progress work on mobile layouts.

      • Z-Type
      • Multimedia on the web and using HTML5 sensibly

        Last week I went to the London Ajax User Meetup in London, England to deliver two talks about HTML5. One was a re-run of a talk I gave at MIT about Multimedia on the web and the second was a call to arms to use HTML5 sensibly. You can go over to Skillsmatter web site to see both talks back to back – but be sure to catch the notes to the second talk in this post, too.

      • SeaMonkey 2.1 Beta 2 Introduces New Features
      • Mozilla: ‘Internet Explorer 9 is not a modern browser’

        Free whitepaper – Distributed Workforce Management in the Cloud

        Mozilla has taken a right swipe at Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, telling the world that the latest incarnation of IE is not a “modern browser.”

        On Tuesday, with both Firefox 4 and IE9 on the verge of official release, Mozilla technical evangelist Paul Rouget hit back at apparent Microsoft suggestions that the new IE offers more extensive HTML5 support than competing browsers. “Is IE9 a modern browser?” Rouget writes on his personal blog. “NO.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Project Releases

  • Government

    • Economics of Participatory Government: The Coming (temporary) Scarcity

      I’ll admit, it’s a bit of a sensational headline. But if I put the word “equilibrium” in there, you might not have reached this point.

      Last year while presenting at a technology and disabilities conference, I answered a question about participatory government, gov 2.0, so on, in a way that reverberated in tones of heresy on the faces of some people.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Data

      • Public Data Corporation

        On 12 January the Government confirmed it was looking to “open up opportunities for innovative developers, businesses and members of the public to generate social and economic growth through the use of data.” The new concept – which for the moment we’re describing as the Public Data Corporation – will be a global first and will help make government-held data much easier to access and use.

    • Open Access/Content

    • Open Hardware

      • Atom is dead, strangled slowly by Intel

        THE BIGGEST LOSER in the tie up between Microsoft and Nokia is none other than Intel. While they may try to put a brave face on the matter, the simple fact remains that their Atom line is now without a future.

        As you may recall, Nokia was going to hold up the flag for Intel and their Atom chips in phones, starting with Moorestown, the 45nm Atom SoC variant, and moving on to custom silicon at 32nm. That variant, as we exclusively reported, was called Penwell. Nokia’s deal with Microsoft just killed that chip dead, and any hopes Atom had in phones went with it. Meego was hit in the head with an errant bag of cash during the drive-by, and has family gathering in the emergency room to pay their last regards.

        Technically, the Atom core is doing everything right, each variant hitting internal targets and improving at a very quick pace. Moorestown was a hugely impressive chip, able to kick the highest end ARM variants to the curb with it’s raw CPU performance. When it came out, nothing was in it’s league, and while ARM variants came close months later, the next iteration, 32nm Medfield, is due out in the near future.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Last Call for HTML5

      After three years of development and debate, there is light at the end of the tunnel for HTML5. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) on Monday announced that the “last call” date for HTML5 would occur in May of this year. The W3C also announced that testing will extend until 2014, at which point HTML5 will be declared an official W3C specification.

      With the move for a last call, the W3C is formalizing the process by which HTML5 will be completed and eventually widely adopted by Web developers and users.

    • W3C Invites Implementations of CSS Backgrounds and Borders Module Level 3; Updates Text Level 3


  • Sealand, HavenCo, and the Rule of Law

    I have posted a draft of my newest paper, Sealand, HavenCo, and the Rule of Law. I revisit the strange story of HavenCo, an early-2000s attempt to set up an Internet hosting site where no country on Earth could get at it, leading to complete freedom from censorship. The place they chose was a former World War II anti-aircraft platform in the North Sea, which had been occupied since the 1960s by a former pirate radio broadcaster, Roy Bates, who declared it the independent Principality of Sealand.

  • HuffPo economics shows that Digital Newspapers are still unsustainable

    Interesting article on the economics of the Huffington Post in the NYT – apart from (as you’d expect) having a strong power law relationship between post and popularity – see diagram above – a few nuggets emerge…

  • With A Little Help: The Early Returns

    At the time of my last column, I was in a three-quarters panic about the book: negotiations with Lulu and my agent had bogged down in miscommunication; Christmas was fast approaching; and I was about to go in for hip surgery. So, what happened? Literally a day after writing that column, I simply launched the book. I made the site live, uploaded the book to Lulu’s servers, and set up the sell pages. The good news: I’ve made some money, and I didn’t turn into a ravening monster on a blind quest for fortune and sales. But I’ve also discovered a lot of tiny errors—and two gigantic ones.

    First, the good news: I’ve made a ton of money on the $275 limited edition. I’ve already sold more than 50, and I get a new order every day or two, without news or advertising. The recipients have been universally delighted with their purchases and the packaging. The combination of a cardboard book mailer, a section of burlap coffee sack, and acid-free tissue paper is a huge hit, with some customers even producing lavish “unboxing” YouTube videos and Flickr sets.

  • Success and challenges for China’s leading paid content website for periodicals

    Since its establishment ten years ago, Qikan.Com.Cn (Longyuan) has stuck to the paid content business model, becoming a website with 2,700 cooperating periodicals and 50 million new users each year. The average subscription is renewed five times.

  • Berlusconi indicted in prostitution probe

    An Italian judge on Tuesday ordered Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to stand trial on charges he paid for sex with a 17-year-old Moroccan girl, then tried to cover it up.

    Berlusconi has stood trial on a number of business-related charges, but this is the first time the 74-year-old billionaire businessman is being tried for personal conduct.

  • Rat runs past No 10 Downing Street
  • The full list: The Twitter 100

    Its 200 million users share 110 million messages a day – and if you don’t know who rules the twittersphere, you don’t understand the 21st-century world. This guide is a definitive who’s who of the UK’s tweet elite.

  • Flowchart: Why Hasn’t the Person You Texted Responded Yet?
  • Virginia House Makes Rolling Right Turn Reckless Driving

    The Virginia House of Delegates on February 4 approved legislation that would make a rolling right-hand turn on a red light a reckless driving offense. The bill introduced by Delegate Bill Janis (R-Glen Allen) was approved with a 67 to 31 vote and is now pending before the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.

  • Truffaut’s Big Interview with Hitchcock (MP3s)
  • Science

    • Making sense of science: introducing the Google Science Communication Fellows

      In an effort to foster a more open, transparent and accessible scientific dialogue, we’ve started a new effort aimed at inspiring pioneering use of technology, new media and computational thinking in the communication of science to diverse audiences. Initially, we’ll focus on communicating the science on climate change.

    • Is Relativity Hard?

      Brad DeLong, in the course of something completely different, suggests that the theory of relativity really isn’t all that hard. At least, if your standard of comparison is quantum mechanics.

      He’s completely right, of course. While relativity has a reputation for being intimidatingly difficult, it’s a peculiar kind of difficulty. Coming at the subject without any preparation, you hear all kinds of crazy things about time dilating and space stretching, and it seems all very recondite and baffling. But anyone who studies the subject appreciates that it’s a series of epiphanies: once you get it, you can’t help but wonder what was supposed to be so all-fired difficult about this stuff. Applications can still be very complicated, of course (just as they are in classical mechanics or electrodynamics or whatever), but the basic pillars of the theory are models of clarity.

    • Quiz-playing computer system could revolutionize research [running GNU/Linux]

      IBM’s supercomputer Watson is going up against top players of the US television quiz programme Jeopardy! this week, stirring up excitement in the artificial-intelligence community and prompting computer science departments across the country to gather and watch.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • South Dakota GOP pushes bill to legalize ‘homicide’ in defense of the unborn

      “Justifiable” homicide is usually claimed in self defense cases, and in particular home invasions that end up with a dead burglar. You could say it’s one of the many things that’s big in Texas.

      But in South Dakota, a group of Republican state legislators have crafted a bill that would expand the legal definition of “justifiable homicide” in a way that’s plain and unambiguous: they’re trying to legalize the murder of abortion doctors.

  • Security

    • Tuesday’s security updates
    • Self-encrypting discs will lock down your data

      IN JUNE 2009, 45,000 people linked to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, suddenly had their privacy compromised. Personal data including social security numbers of students, former students, staff and faculty were exposed. But this was no high-tech hack – all of the information was contained in a single stolen computer. Had the data been safely encrypted there would have been virtually no risk, but typical encryption methods require specialised software that few are willing to invest in.

    • Image site hits back at spammers

      Spammers are being thwarted by finding that their junk messages unexpectedly contain warnings urging recipients to delete the e-mail.

      The alerts are issued by ImageShack, in an effort to stop spammers using its services.

      It is replacing pictures, known to have appeared in spam, with warnings such as “Do not buy”.

    • Ashkenazi Video Admits IDF Bombed Syrian Nuclear Reactor and Created Stuxnet

      Haaretz has just published a story that will certainly disappear due to gag order. In it, Anshel Pfeffer writes that Gabi Ashkenazi prepared a video celebrating his achievements as chief of staff, which was screened at a party marking his final day on the job. What is extraordinary about the video is that among the successes of his time in office it credits the bombing of the Syrian nuclear reactor and the Stuxnet virus attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Israel has never publicly acknowledged responsibility for either.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • From #Jan25 to Tahrir: What Comes Next for the Internet Revolution?

      Guest author Ahmed Zidan lives in Egypt and is the editor of Mideast Youth. The Egyptian protesters have overthrown Mubarak after nearly 30 years. Egypt has come second in row after Tunisia. The two revolutions, the Tunisian and the Egyptian, have succeeded. Egypt has seen its first people’s revolution, and over 18 days many things changed until the regime was totally uninstalled.

      Let’s trace the protests back across the Mediterranean. The self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in Sidi Bouzid was the spark for the massive Tunisian protests that overthrew then-president Ben Ali. The Tunisian protests, in turn, were the spark for Egypt’s #Jan25. And it’s very relevant to name it #Jan25, because it was totally Internet driven. (Other names include the Jan. 25 Revolution, Revolution of Anger, and lately Tahrir Revolution, an Arabic equivalent for Revolution of Liberation.) It’s not an overstatement to say that #SidiBouzid is the sole parent of #Jan25, and created a domino effect that will not stop in Egypt.

    • Hillary Clinton: Tehran violence ‘an indictment of Iranian regime’s hypocrisy’ – video
    • Iran unrest: What next for the opposition movement?

      Extra security forces are on the streets of Tehran today after anti-government protests on Monday.

      Video posted on the internet clearly show demonstrators clashing violently with uniformed and plain-clothed police; some were chanting for the removal of Ayatollah Khamanei.

    • Iran lawmakers call for execution of opposition leaders

      Iranian lawmakers urged the judiciary on Tuesday to hand out death penalties to opposition leaders for fomenting unrest in the Islamic state after a rally in which one person was killed and dozens were wounded, state media said.

    • Hillary Clinton Is Well Acquainted With Hypocrisy

      Hilary Clinton is one of many politicians around the world from all parties and ideologies who are part of the problem, not the solution. The other day she called the Iranian government hypocrites for supporting the Egyptian people in their protests under the excuse “it’s an Islamic revolution” then clamping down on Iranian protests in their usual fascist state tried and trusted ways. It turns out that Hillary Clinton does know the word hypocrite after all.

    • The toxic residue of colonialism

      And yet, by means seen and unseen, external actors, especially the United States, with a distinct American blend of presumed imperial and paternal prerogatives are seeking to shape and limit the outcome of this extraordinary uprising of the Egyptian people, long held in subsidised bondage by the cruel and corrupt Mubarak dictatorship. What is the most defining feature of this American-led diplomacy-from-without is the seeming propriety of managing the turmoil, so that the regime survives and the demonstrators return to what is perversely being called “normalcy”.

    • [Humour] Comparison of the Republican Party with the Muslim Brotherhood
    • Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood To Form Political Party

      The panel is to draw up changes at a breakneck pace — within 10 days — to end the monopoly that ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling party once held, which it ensured through widespread election rigging. The initial changes may not be enough for many in Egypt calling for the current constitution, now suspended by the military, to be thrown out completely and rewritten to ensure no one can once again establish autocratic rule. Two members on the panel said the next elected government could further change the document if it choses.

    • Libya: Violent protests rock city of Benghazi

      BBC’s Jon Leyne in Cairo talks about the protests in Libya as amateur video is released of clashes in Benghazi

      Hundreds of people have clashed with police and government supporters in the Libyan city of Benghazi.

    • TSA comes under fire again as employees admit to repeatedly stealing money from passengers

      In return the colleague would give some of the money to Arato, who also admitted to stealing some himself at his security checkpoint in Terminal B.

      The colleague, who was not named, cooperated with investigators leading them to the arrest of Arato.

      Arato faces a maximum potential sentence of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, though the actual penalty may be less under sentencing guidelines. He will be sentenced on May 24.

    • Bahrain police open fire on funeral procession leaving one dead

      Bahrain has moved to defuse unrest by promising to investigate the killings of opposition protesters who had been inspired by the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

      The latest violence in the Gulf state saw the shooting of a young man at the heavily attended funeral of another who was killed by security forces on Monday.

    • The empire strikes again

      Anyone who still wonders why the Bush administration invaded Iraq would do well to become familiar with an institution whose existence few Americans are aware of: the American University of Iraq-Sulaimaniya.

      Located in Kurdistan, at the nexus of northern Iraq’s border with Iran and Turkey, AUI-S opened its doors in 2007. At the time, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times wrote about it with the sort of wide-eyed enthusiasm that had generally accompanied the invasion itself four years before. “Imagine for a moment if one outcome of the U.S. invasion of Iraq had been the creation of an American University of Iraq … Imagine if we had created an island of decency in Iraq … Well, stop imagining.”

    • Donald Rumsfeld was right about everything, book by Rumsfeld claims

      Reviled two-time Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has finally written his memoir. It is titled “Known and Unknown,” after a typically obtuse quote he gave to the press while mismanaging the “global war on terrorism.” In his memoir, Rumsfeld is settling various old scores, and, obviously, trying to convince everyone that he is not responsible for the various awful failures and fiascoes that occurred at the Pentagon during his tenure in the Bush administration. Like, for example, the whole “Iraq invasion and occupation” thing.

  • Cablegate

    • Biting the source that feeds you

      It’s the climax of the 1975 hit Three Days of the Condor. On a Manhattan sidewalk fugitive CIA analyst Robert Redford, having outgunned his assassins, confronts his double-dealing boss, who demands he join the sinister plot to control the world’s oil. No way, Redford says, he’s already blown the whistle. And the camera pans across the street where a truckload of newsprint is being delivered – to The New York Times. Game over.

      Ahh, Hollywood. But what really happens when you’re a major league whistleblower? Say you’ve acquired sensitive documents of huge public importance, very hush-hush. Although it’s bound to annoy powerful people and may expose you to reprisal, you deliver them to the world’s mightiest news media, including The New York Times, which use them in sensational articles that have worldwide impact.

      The Condor’s triumphant fourth day? Well, no. Sure you’ve handed over official secrets of global significance at considerable personal risk. That’s not enough. You’ve also got to be charming. Make sure your clothes are laundered and wrinkle-free. You may be living out of a backpack and pulling impossible hours culling data, but don’t forget to bathe regularly. And even if one of the organizations you’ve given this material to violates the conditions you set, don’t you dare get angry.

      And know this: That every conversation you have with the reporters you’re working with, every snarky comment they make about you, every detail of your collaboration, may be used in a high-profile account of the whole affair that will portray you as a peevish, contemptuous, slouching, disheveled, foul-smelling, paranoid, self-serving, manipulative, volatile ideologue.

      Those descriptors come more or less verbatim from the remarkable cover story by The New York Times’ top editor, Bill Keller, in the newspaper’s Jan. 30 Sunday magazine, titled “The Boy Who Kicked the Hornet’s [sic] Nest.” It is Keller’s 8,000-word version of his newspaper’s dealings with Julian Assange, the 39-year-old Australian-born founder of Wikileaks, the worldwide online anti-secrecy network that last year provided The Times and other leading newspapers with a vast and extraordinarily rich trove of classified U.S. government documents.

    • Spy Games: Inside the Convoluted Plot to Bring Down WikiLeaks

      When Aaron Barr was finalizing a recent computer security presentation for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, a colleague had a bit of good-natured advice for him: “Scare the shit out of them!”

      In retrospect, this may not have been the advice Barr needed. As CEO of the government-focused infosec company HBGary Federal, Barr had to bring in big clients — and quickly — as the startup business hemorrhaged cash. To do so, he had no problem with trying to “scare the sh*t out of them.” When working with a major DC law firm in late 2010 on a potential deal involving social media, for instance, Barr decided that scraping Facebook to stalk a key partner and his family might be a good idea. When he sent his law firm contact a note filled with personal information about the partner, his wife, her family and her photography business, the result was immediate.

    • US request for Twitter account details ‘outrageous’: Assange

      Washington’s efforts to get Twitter to hand over information on the accounts of people connected to WikiLeaks is “outrageous,” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Monday.

      “This is an outrageous attack by the Obama administration on the privacy and free speech rights of Twitter’s customers — many of them American citizens,” Assange said in a statement, a day before a US hearing in the case.

      The US government’s attempts to get Twitter to hand over information about the Twitter accounts of three WikiLeaks supporters, is “more shocking, at this time, (as) it amounts to an attack on the right to freedom of association, a freedom that the people of Tunisia and Egypt, for example, spurred on by the information released by WikiLeaks, have found so valuable,” he added.

    • WikiLeaks and the Archives and Records Profession

      Do WikiLeaks and its complex, attendant issues shift our conceptualization of our roles as information professionals? How might WikiLeaks change the public’s views on usage of and access to archives and records? To what extent is the most recent release of diplomatic cables a product of information mismanagement?

      Addressing these and many more questions, the speakers include Trudy Peterson, former Acting Archivist of the United States (1993-1995) and current representative for the Society of American Archivists on the Department of State’s Historical Advisory Committee; Fred Pulzello, Solutions Architect in the Information Governance practice at MicroLink LLC; James Fortmuller, Manager of Systems Security at Kelley Drye & Warren LLP in Washington, DC; Mark Matienzo, Digital Archivist in Manuscripts and Archives at Yale University Library; and Derek Bambauer, Associate Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School. The panel was moderated by Peter Wosh, Director of the Archives/Public History Program and Clinical Associate Professor of History at New York University.

    • [Dershowitz Joins Legal Team for Wikileaks]
    • The powerful law firm at the center of the WikiLeaks plot

      One of the big outstanding questions in the story of the plot to undermine WikiLeaks and Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, as well as a separate plan to discredit critics of the Chamber of Commerce, is the nature of the role played by the large international law firm Hunton & Williams.

      Hunton, which brags it employs 1,000 lawyers in 18 offices on three continents, has worked for both the Chamber and Bank of America. The company is nervous because WikiLeaks is reportedly planning to release internal bank documents, and Bank of America apparently connected with Hunton to help respond to the crisis.

      Hunton attorneys in turn had a series of e-mail communications — since hacked by WikiLeaks supporters and published online — with a trio of technology firms that proposed various schemes to attack WikiLeaks, Greenwald and critics of the Chamber. (One typical idea was to provide labor activists with false documents in order to discredit them.)

    • More facts emerge about the leaked smear campaigns

      As I noted on Friday, the parties implicated in the smear campaigns aimed at WikiLeaks supporters and Chamber of Commerce critics have attempted to heap all the blame on HBGary Federal (“HBGary”) and its CEO, Aaron Barr. Both Bank of America and the Chamber — the intended clients — vehemently deny any involvement in these schemes and have harshly denounced them. The other two Internet security firms whose logos appeared on the proposals — Palantir Technologies and Berico Technologies — both issued statements terminating their relationship with HBGary and insisting that they had nothing to do with these plots. Only Hunton & Williams and its partner, John Woods — the central cogs soliciting these proposals — have steadfastly refused to comment.

      Palantir, in particular, has been quite aggressive about trying to distance itself. They initially issued a strong statement denouncing the plots, then had their CEO call me vowing to investigate and terminate any employees who were involved, then issued another statement over the weekend claiming that “Palantir never has and never will condone the sort of activities that HBGary recommended” and “Palantir did not participate in the development of the recommendations that Palantir and others find offensive.” Such vehemence is unsurprising: the Palo-Alto-based firm relies for its recruitment efforts on maintaining a carefully cultivated image as a progressive company devoted to civil liberties, privacy and Internet freedom — all of which would be obviously sullied by involvement in such a scheme.

    • Early Morning Swim: Glenn Greenwald Discusses Wikileaks Smear Campaign with Matt Miller
    • The WIKILEAKS NEWS & VIEWS BLOG For Tuesday, Day 80

      2:10 Largely overlooked in Clinton speech was this small bit near end: “There were reports in the days following theleak that the U.S. government intervened to coerce private companies to denyservice to Wikileaks. This is not the case. Some politicians and pundits publiclycalled for companies to dissociate from Wikileaks, while others criticized them fordoing so. Public officials are part of our country’s public debates, but there is a linebetween expressing views and coercing conduct. But any business decisions that private companies may have taken to enforce their own policies regarding Wikileaks was not at the direction or the suggestion of the Obama Administration.”

    • Dershowitz: Assange has a new legal adviser

      ONLY ON THE BLOG: Answering today’s five OFF-SET questions is Alan M. Dershowitz, who has been called “the nation’s most peripatetic civil liberties lawyer” and one of its “most distinguished defenders of individual rights.”


      Russia has recently shown clear signs of throwing off its long and tragic history of anti-Semitism. In the past several years, official GOR policy has involved an aggressive campaign against anti-Semitism, coupled with positive official statements towards the Jewish community. Societal attitudes have also improved, with a resulting decrease in the number of anti-Semitic attacks or incidents. Increasing ties between Russia and Israel, including the new visa-free regime between the two countries, have also added to the improved atmosphere. While some ingrained suspicions of Jews remain among Russians, Jewish contacts with whom we spoke painted an optimistic picture of the current situation for Russian Jews, though they warned that the situation could easily change back again quickly.

    • Corporate America vs. Wikileaks
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Philly homeowner forecloses on Wells Fargo

      Patrick Rodgers, an independent music promoter in Philadelphia, has won a judgment against his mortgage lender, Wells Fargo, which Wells hasn’t paid, and so he’s foreclosed on them and arranged for a sheriff’s sale of the contents of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, 1341 N. Delaware Ave to pay the legal bill.

  • TPPA

    • Critical Paper Links TPPA to Financial Instability, Challenges Negotiators to Release Draft Text for Further Analysis

      Negotiators on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) meeting for a fifth round of talks in Santiago this week will be presented with a mock draft text and expert analysis that links the proposed agreement to continued financial instability.

      The paper authored by Professor Jane Kelsey from the University of Auckland and Sanya Reid Smith from Malaysia-based Third World Network, with assistance from other investment experts, will form the basis of a stakeholder presentation on Tuesday.

      “The post-2007 global financial crisis exposed the chronic instability of a highly liberalised, deregulated and globally integrated financial system. No one knows how or where the next crisis will unfold”, said Professor Kelsey.

      “It is time to rethink the failed model of financial deregulation that has been repeatedly locked in and ratcheted up through previous free trade agreements.”

      “Far from recognising that need, the TPPA negotiations appear to be bolting the door closed on the options for governments to re-regulate the financial sector and impose controls on speculative capital flows in ways that meet the needs of their people”.

    • Leaks and lockouts as TPPA negotiations begin in Santiago

      As New Zealand’s December paper foreshadowed, the US text is reportedly more aggressive than its previous free trade agreements (FTAs), building on the IP chapter in the Australia US FTA. A local IT expert predicted the US would use the TPPA to achieve what it failed to secure in the recently concluded Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

    • EU web blocking plans curtailed

      The EU Commission’s stupid plans to mandate EU-wide web blocking as a central element of the proposed directive on the sexual abuse and exploitation of children suffered a setback in the Libe committee (civil liberties committee of the Parliament) yesterday, thanks primarily to the efforts of a small number of digital rights groups, prominent amongst which was EDRI.

    • Senate extends the Patriot Act for three months in 86-12 vote

      The Senate on Tuesday voted 86-12 Tuesday to extend the Patriot Act for three months.

      The vote came one day after the House passed legislation extending the Patriot Act until Dec. 2011.

      Due to an amendment tacked on to the House bill by Senate leaders Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) earlier Tuesday the Senate version of the bill only extends the Patriot Act until May 27, 2011.

    • Just How Open Is Your Internet? [INFOGRAPHICS]

      America, the champion of democracy and freedom, actually has more Internet censorship than some countries in Africa and South America according to an infographic based on Internet censorship research conducted by the OpenNet Initiative.

  • Civil Rights

    • Free Cheng Jianping – sentenced to labour camp in China for a tweet!

      On the 28th October, she was set to marry her fiance, Hua Chunhui, also a human rights defender.

      On the same day, Cheng was arrested and sentenced to a year of Laojiao – education through labour – for ‘disturbing social order’. Her crime was to send out one tweet which mocked a protest orchestrated by the Chinese government.

      Cheng is totally devoted to social activism and was working without income, reportedly lived on instant noodles as her main food.

    • Over 1 lakh phones are tapped every year

      Some startling figures tumbled out on rampant phone tapping in the country when telecom service provider Reliance Communications told the Supreme Court on Monday that the authorities had asked it to tap 1.51 lakh phone numbers in a five-year span between 2006 and 2010.

      This works out to an average of over 30,000 telephone interceptions every year by a single service provider on the orders of various law enforcing agencies. Or, over 82 telephones were intercepted every day by a single service provider.

    • Corporate spying ‘scandals’ – where is the ethical edge?

      Where should a company draw the marker between information gathering for risk management and outright spying and subterfuge?

      It’s clearly a fine line.

      As Eric Dezenhall has argued, companies need defending just like anyone else, and are often targeted by those seeking personal advantage from alleged corporate malfeasance. He cites Toyota as an example.

      Equally, companies have been accused, by authorised or unauthorised proxy, of crossing the ethical line in information gathering in recent lines. Dow Chemical and Sasol are in a spotlight they would rather was shone elsewhere as a result.

      In messy and long-running cases, it becomes hard to work out who has behaved badly – or worst – in emotionally-charged campaigns and legal cases that can take on a life of their own. Take Chevron, campaigners and Ecuador as an example.

      The WikiLeaks saga, and threat of its expansion further into the corporate world, have given many a corporate executive pause for thought. The article linked above this line has been the most popular on Ethicalcorp.com this year.

      Just yesterday, to sit alongside the ongoing News of the World phone tapping scandal and police undercover operations against activists the Guardian has reported that UK energy companies E.ON, Scottish Resources Group and Scottish Power have been ‘spying’ on activists via a private security firm.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/UBB

    • European Union plans new measures to reduce data roaming charges

      The European Commission will have to consider radical new measures to reduce the cost of mobile roaming charges after almost all respondents to its consultation said prices were unfair.

      European roaming prices are currently more than three times that of domestic charges. Even Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes on Monday described the current charges as “rip offs.” And the prices for data roaming are even higher.

    • Brazilian telcoms regulator raids, confiscates and fines over open WiFi

      The latest in a series of reversals from Brazil’s new government is an attack on open WiFi. The Brazilian telcoms regulator claims that it is empowered to raid the homes of people with open WiFi networks and seize their routers and then issue hefty fines. This is part of a general series of attacks on sharing and openness in Brazil, including attacks on free content and open culture — a heartbreaking turn from a nation that has led the world in respect for the open Internet, shared culture, and freedom for most of the century.

    • Three Kingdoms of China’s Internet

      While China’s Internet is already dominated by power players in a way that the US Internet is not, investment bank CLSA sees further consolidation through lose alliances.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Should There Be Trade Barriers For Chinese Companies Buying Core Global Patent Portfolios in New Technology?

      Secondly the party that is willing to sell the core patent portfolio is not getting the real market value if the government is raising barriers, so as a retaliatory measure against China’s discriminatory indigenous innovation policies it might hurt the one retaliating, and it might lock up resources that could be brought to better use.

      I know that after the financial crisis the following words may sound harsh to your ears but this author believes it is best to eliminate the barriers and let the market do its work to avoid misallocation of resources.

    • Copyrights

      • Learning from my children… and Radiohead

        My daughter, the eldest, told me all about Facebook in 2004, and even became my first friend there after I received an invite from Dave Morin, now at Path. Before that I’d done things like watch her converse across multiple MSN Messenger channels in parallel (forcing me to have Microsoft in an Apple-only house!), seemingly while doing her homework and while watching television. It reminded me of the time she was just a few years old, watching TV while reading while eating while playing with toys. I would gently walk over to the TV with the intention of switching it off, only to be stopped by a plaintive “Dad, I’m still watching it”. She was three when the web was written about, five when it became real. And it was a joy to learn about the web through her eyes, the sites she visited, the sites she knew about, the tools she used and why.

      • Spanish Academy Awards Tainted By Anti-Piracy Law Controversy

        The Goya Awards, Spain’s equivalent to the Academy Awards, have been tainted by controversy stemming from the country’s so-called Sinde anti-piracy law. Alongside egg-throwing and public boos for the eventual Best Actor winner for his support of the legislation, as a protest today, Spanish Film Academy president Alex de la Iglesia will step down.

        In recent months a controversial piece of legislation aimed at shutting down file-sharing sites has resulted in massive opposition from all corners of the Spanish nation. Protests last year appeared to have been successful when the House of Representatives rejected the proposal, but the good news was short-lived.

      • ACS: Law Targeted People Who Were “Clearly Not Guilty”

        Former employee says she quit her job there because she felt the law firm was targeting people like “old ladies who never downloaded files” who likely didn’t “have security on their wireless connection.”

        The row over ACS: Law and its controversial mass file-sharing lawsuit campaign continues with news that a former employee quit the job over moral concerns.

      • 5 live Investigates: The XXX Files 13 FEB 2011

        Thousands of people across the UK received letters accusing them of illegally downloading internet porn, demanding £495 for the privilege. But the firm behind the letters, ACS Law, didn’t know for sure if they were guilty or innocent. Campaigners are warning that a new law designed to clamp down on online crime will encourage more bullying and intimidation of web users by unscrupulous legal firms. Also: we reveal the latest FIFA investigation into football match-fixing, following suspicious betting on a Turkish tournament last week. Plus, the latest twist on direct debit fraud which affects nearly 100,000 people a year.

      • Evidence Suggests Major Film Studios Uploading Movie Clips To YouTube… Pretending To Be Pirated

        One of the tidbits that came out of the YouTube/Viacom lawsuit was the fact that Viacom quite frequently would upload its own clips to YouTube, but did so trying to pretend they were pirated clips. In fact, they would send employees out of Viacom’s offices to local printshops to upload the videos under childish sounding names, like “MMysticalGirl8, Demansr, tesderiw, GossipGirl40, Snackboard and Keithhn,” to make people think they were pirated copies.

      • Notes on Lady Gaga, Madonna, George Harrison and originality in music.

        After hearing the comparison myself, I can draw a personal conclusion that Lady Gaga was heavily influenced by Madonna and is far less talented and original than people give her credit for.

        But could she be liable for copyright infringement? In a sane world, the answer should be “no”, since the works can still be distinguished. Gaga clearly took the broad structure of Madonna’s song (the “spine” of the melody, if you will), but then put a personal gloss over it to make it her own, new work. The fact that it clearly grew out of Madonna’s previous creation should not make it an actual “copy” in the eyes of the law.

      • Axis of Awesome – 4 Four Chord Song (with song titles)
      • CBS sends a YouTube takedown to itself

        Here’s yet another example of the TV industry’s love-hate relationship with YouTube: a CBS website hosting a YouTube clip that has been removed due to a copyright claim from CBS.

      • Have Media Companies Destroyed Their Copyrights With The ‘Share’ Button?

        Righthaven has become controversial by taking a sue-first-ask-questions-later approach to copyright enforcement on behalf of its newspaper clients, which include MediaNews Group as well as the smaller chain that owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Most content companies, by contrast, are content with more low-key methods of making sure their copyright is respected. But if the Righthaven experiment ends badly, it could be a big setback for other media companies trying to make sure their content isn’t copied—even for companies that wouldn’t ever consider an aggressive strategy like Righthaven’s. There are at least two ways that could happen.

      • Record Label Teaches Music Fans BitTorrent

        Record labels are generally not too fond of BitTorrent. Just a few months ago the RIAA reported several BitTorrent sites as “rogue sites” to the US Government. It therefore comes as quite a surprise that the independent record label Adamant Records is featuring a BitTorrent tutorial on its homepage, right next to the ‘download on iTunes’ links. Why would they do that? Have they gone mad?

      • What Congress Can Learn from the Recent ICE Seizures

        COICA”, Senator Leahy’s Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act, is back. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the legislation tomorrow morning.

        As a reminder, COICA would give the government dramatic new copyright enforcement powers, most notably the ability to meddle with the Internet’s domain name system (DNS) and make entire websites effectively disappear, along with noninfringing content and lawful speech.

      • ACTA

Clip of the Day

The Sagan Series (Pt 2) – Life Looks for Life

Credit: TinyOgg

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